We recently discussed how a fall can cause a serious injury and what you can do to reduce the risk of falling. However, accidents do happen. What do you do if you fall and hurt yourself while you are home alone? This situation can be very scary and upsetting for both the person who has fallen and his or her family.
If you or a family member is at risk of falling, knowing how to respond could prevent a more serious injury. Remember these steps if you fall and have difficulty getting back up.
1. Don't panic.
For many people, the first reaction to a fall is panic. However, reacting while you are panicking could lead you to make a decision that will make an injury worse. Remain still for a few moments, and take several deep breaths to calm yourself.
2. Try to determine if you are hurt before you attempt to move.
If you attempt to move yourself with an injury, moving the wrong way could make it worse. If you cannot move or reach a phone to call for help, try to get into a comfortable position until help arrives.
3. If you think you can move, do so slowly.
Carefully position yourself on your hands and knees and crawl to a sturdy piece of furniture, like a chair. If you begin to feel weakness or an increase in pain, stop where you are and rest until you feel you are able to continue.
4. Slowly get up onto the chair.
Place your hands on the seat. Place one foot flat on the floor, bending the knee, and keep your other knee on the floor. Slowly rise and twist around to sit in the chair. Call 911 for assistance if you think you are injured.
5. Tell your doctor and your family.
Even if you do not appear to be injured, there may be an internal injury, so it is always a good idea to get checked out. Also, your doctor may be able to suggest a physical or occupational therapist to help you improve balance and strength and help you make changes to reduce your risk of falling again. Your family can help by checking in on you often or arranging to have a professional come to your home to help you.
6. Take steps to prevent future falls.
Try to eliminate tripping hazards from your house, and participate in exercise or physical therapy programs to help with strength and balance. The fear of falling again often makes older people withdraw from activity, but inactivity leads to muscle weakness, which could increase the likelihood of a fall. You may want to carry a cell phone in your pocket at all times in the event that you fall and cannot reach a phone. You can also get a personal emergency response system, which works with your telephone line through a button that you wear on your wrist or around your neck. With the push of the button, emergency services will be alerted and sent to your house.
A fall can lead to fractures and other serious injuries, so it is important to know what you can to do reduce your risk and how to react if an accident happens. If you or a family member is at risk, you need to do everything you can to stay safe.